Home > Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(11)

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(11)
Jenny Colgan

‘He’s in a bad mood because you didn’t take him to the bus station.’

‘He does like buses,’ said Huckle.

‘This is your bird, right? Cool,’ said Dubose.

They entered the sitting room at the top of the tower, which Polly had spent a long time making as nice as she could. Neil had spread packing peanuts all over the room, everywhere, in a huge mess. He had pooed in the box for good measure.

‘Neil!’ said Polly in exasperation. Dubose burst out laughing.

Dubose regaled them over dinner with his travelling tales, most of them involving accidentally ending up at VIP parties or backstage at gigs. There were also a good few where he completely ran out of money or found himself upside down in a bin. He told a good story against himself.

‘And those girls!’ he sighed. ‘Oh Huckle, you gotta see those blondes up in Reykjavik.’

Huckle gave a slightly tight smile.

‘Isn’t Clemmie missing you? Isn’t it calving time?’

Dubose nodded. ‘She’s an amazing girl. And she knows that sometimes I just have to break free, follow my dreams, man, you know?’

‘Do all your dreams end up with you sleeping in a bin?’

Dubose turned away.

‘Polly, this quiche is absolutely sensational. I think you might be a genius. Are you a genius?’

‘No,’ said Polly, smiling, even though she couldn’t help watching the dynamic. It was strange to hear Huckle sounding fed up; it so rarely happened.

‘She is a genius, Huckle. You should buy her a bakery.’

There was a slight awkward silence. After a moment, Huckle started clearing away. Dubose glanced at his watch.

‘So, where are we going now?’

It was 9.30.

‘Um,’ said Polly. ‘Actually we normally just… go to bed.’

Dubose looked aghast. ‘Seriously? But it’s Friday night!’

‘I know,’ said Polly. ‘But we’ve got people coming over on Sunday. Hopefully you’ll like them.’

‘Well that’s a pile of bullcrap,’ Dubose shouted, wavering unsteadily on top of the gantry.

They were recovering from the rabbit pie Polly had made for Sunday lunch. It had been a sensational pie, but actually it was hard to remember now, as Huckle had also brought a couple of litres of his honey mead, which was guaranteed to remove all nerve endings from the waist down, as well as ensuring that the next day someone followed you around the room hitting you repeatedly on the head with a sharp-edged brick.

But today, Polly had been thinking dreamily, that didn’t matter.

Above their sitting room in the lighthouse was the light itself. It worked automatically – every so often, as part of their complicated property deeds, a man would zip up the stairs and give it a polish and a checkover – and round the outside was a metal walkway, reached by a narrow staircase that allowed access for cleaning and maintenance. They had been told repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, when they bought the property that this walkway did not belong to them, that it was dangerous and to be used only by clipped-in, safety-harness-and-vest-and-helmet-wearing qualified lighthouse operatives.

So naturally every sunny day they went up there with giant bean bags and sprawled out around the little platform. It was best if you didn’t look down between the metal slats, and not a great idea in high winds, but on a beautiful day it was absolutely stunning: you felt as if you were floating through the clouds. Today, Polly and her best friend Kerensa were on the sunny sheltered ledge at the top of the little staircase that led back into the main body of the lighthouse; Reuben was sprawled fearlessly across the metal walkway getting a suntan, and Huckle was perched on top of it with his back against the lighthouse itself, long legs stretched out to the other side, gazing out to sea. Dubose was sitting nearby and Neil was stomping about looking for more pastry scraps. His claws made a clicking sound on the walkway as he went round so often Polly thought he might get dizzy. When he got to Reuben, he just hopped up on his leg and walked over the top of him.

Meanwhile, Reuben and Dubose had got into a ridiculous barney about grain subsidies, which had made Dubose all pink in the face but which Reuben was patently enjoying.

‘Poo on him!’ hissed Kerensa. ‘Do it, Neil, I mean it! I’m sick of this argument.’

‘NO MORE POO!’ said Polly loftily, just as Neil did in fact poo straight through the metal slats and all the way down to the rocks, where some children with fishing nets were pottering around looking for tiddlers and prising off shellfish. The five at the top of the lighthouse peered down and held their breath, then let out a collective sigh of relief as the poo splashed harmlessly into a nearby rock pool.

‘All I want is for my puffin to learn to use a human toilet,’ said Polly. ‘Is that really too much to ask?’

‘And the other reason grain subsidies are great —’

‘So anyway,’ said Reuben, ignoring Dubose and turning to Polly, ‘why don’t you let me buy you the bakery?’

Polly gasped.

Reuben was quite relentless when he got on to a topic. He was an old friend of Huckle’s who’d made a lot of money selling some kind of Internet thing in San Francisco – he often tried to explain it, but Polly could never quite get to the bottom of it. Anyway, now he owned a private surfing beach and stunning modernist house in north Cornwall. Kerensa was Polly’s best friend from Plymouth. Initially she’d thought Polly moving to a tidal island was the stupidest idea she’d ever heard of. Then she’d started visiting. She absolutely couldn’t bear Huckle’s loud friend Reuben, until she’d accidentally got off with him one night, and since then they’d been utterly inseparable, and were now married.

‘I mean it. This woman sounds worse than Mrs Manse. And this Malcolm… what does he do?’

‘Um, consultant?’ said Polly.

‘Um, grain subsidies?’ said Dubose, who was still standing up and beginning to feel a bit foolish.

‘What kind of consultant? Hospital consultant? Insolvency consultant? Would You Like Fries With That consultant?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘He sounds rubbish,’ said Reuben. ‘Let me buy him out. I’ll tell him I’m a major bakery consultant – which by the way I totally could be – and then I’ll buy both of them and then we’re done.’

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