Home > Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #1)(7)

Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #1)(7)
Jenny Colgan

‘I told her,’ said Lance mournfully. ‘No one would buy it, either. It’s a total pain in the behind.’

‘Oh great, a crazy person’s house covered in holes, with rats in the basement,’ said Kerensa. ‘Thank you SO much for your time. Come on, Polly.’

Polly took one last, slightly wistful glance at the sea.

‘You know,’ she said. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers.’

‘You are kidding,’ said Kerensa. ‘Your family would sue me after you died here.’

‘I’ll tell them not to,’ said Polly. She turned round to face her friend.

Kerensa eyed her carefully. Polly might be soft on the outside, but inside, somewhere, she knew, there was a tough streak. The same streak that had made her fight for her business and her relationship even when it was completely obvious to the rest of the world that all was lost.

‘I have to live somewhere.’

‘Polly. Sweets. This is a hole at the end of the world.’

‘Maybe,’ said Polly, ‘that’s exactly where I want to be right now.’

‘Excellent,’ said Lance, pinkening up again as he added, ‘I mean, I am so sorry for… um, well, I think…’

Polly put him out of his misery.

‘I’d need a very short lease,’ she said.

Lance put his hands up, as if this could be arranged.

‘And the roof…’

‘Uh huh?’

‘No daylight through the roof. I think that seems reasonable.’

‘Hmm.’

‘And what if…’ she said carefully. ‘What about…’ And she named a figure half of what the property was advertised for.

Lance looked like a five-year-old who needed to go to the toilet. ‘Er, I’m sure that wouldn’t… I mean, I’d have to talk to head office… I mean, negotiation…’

Kerensa looked furiously at Polly. ‘You’re not serious?’

Polly related her dispiriting trawl through Plymouth’s less salubrious flat shares. ‘I can’t do anything else.’

‘You can’t do this! It’s a disaster!’

‘I’m renting, not sticking my life savings in it. Just for a little while… Summer’s coming.’

‘Summer’s coming,’ repeated Lance.

‘Summer will probably skip Britain this year,’ said Kerensa. ‘This place is a deathtrap.’

Polly had a set to her mouth Kerensa had seen before; it meant she was basically unbudgeable on the issue.

‘Let’s go and have lunch and discuss it,’ said Kerensa in desperation.

As the three of them stood there, the seagull dropped a substantial poo through the hole in the roof. Kerensa wrinkled her nose.

‘Where’s a good lunch place round here?’

Lance pulled his collar a little anxiously.

‘Er… Plymouth?’

Chapter Five

They had to wait thirty-five minutes for the tide to go out far enough for them to get back across the causeway. Polly spent the entire time humming to distract herself from Kerensa, who had come up with another ninety-five reasons why she couldn’t possibly move to Polbearne. Funnily enough, they only seemed to make her more determined.

‘Stop it!’ said Kerensa, scowling at her, after pointing out that there weren’t any taxis on the island.

‘Stop what?’ said Polly, looking innocent.

‘Stop deciding to do it! It’s crazy.’

‘I’m not deciding anything.’

‘You so are. I can see your lips twitching. You look happy for the first time in about a year, even though it is a TERRIBLE mistake.’

Polly half smiled as she thought about everything that had happened.

‘At least this time it’s my terrible mistake,’ she said.

Kerensa was working – all her friends were working – the day Polly moved. She knew that they would have helped, but, feeling a bit defiant, that was kind of how she liked it.

She didn’t want the ignominy, the feeling that she was having to give up her life: her central heating and her flat-screen TV; her interest-only mortgage, her successful progression up the career ladder, her handsome, fit boyfriend, etc., etc., blah, blah. She felt she had ‘FAILURE’ branded right across her forehead; that the boxes she was sending to storage should be stamped ‘ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS, BOXED UP AND PUT AWAY FOR EVER’, and she didn’t want to sit in a van discussing it.

Most things were going to storage: good clothes (they’d get damp), books (would warp; nowhere to put them), jewellery (could fall through cracks in floor), photos and memorabilia (made her too miserable to look at anything cheerful). She was taking her most waterproof clothing, a bed, and, even though it was a horrible mark of her hubris, their very expensive, super-designed sofa.com sofa, in layers of the softest pale grey. It would get ruined where she was going, but she had chosen it – well, they had chosen it together, but it was mostly her – and she absolutely loved it; its comfort, its luxury. She couldn’t, she absolutely couldn’t sit on the ratty moist brown rattan one that was there already. She couldn’t think of a single way to get the old one out and the new one in, but she’d figure it out when she got there.

Chris had come by whilst she was packing up; nice Mr Bassi had also come to make sure she wasn’t taking anything the bank could possibly sell back, but even he let her get away with the sofa.

‘Getting rid of this should help,’ Chris said. ‘Make it look nice and minimalist for selling. And I feel good that you’re taking the sofa, even though obviously we should have shared it.’

Polly had just carried on packing the two last, most valuable items: the coffee machine and her big mixer for making bread. She loved to bake, and had done so more and more often in the last year or so, whilst Chris was hiding away at weekends. Then he’d come home and complain about carbs, so she’d end up eating most of her experiments herself. Anyway, those things were hers, and Mr Bassi kindly let her take them. She wasn’t so bothered that she was leaving behind the huge framed Muhammad Ali posters, and the stupidly expensive surround-sound system that Chris had expected her to chip in for even though it was wildly overpriced, far too loud for the flat, and the subject of extremely long and boring lectures on its myriad qualities every time somebody new came to visit.

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