Home > Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(12)

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(12)
Jenny Colgan

‘Well we’re not done, are we?’ said Polly crossly. ‘I don’t want you to buy me out of trouble.’

‘Why not?’ said Reuben. ‘Buying people out of trouble is totally one of the things I’m amazing at.’

‘Is he always like this?’ grumbled Dubose.

‘You should probably sit down, Dubose,’ said Huckle. ‘We’re pretty high up.’

‘You’d be a worse boss than this Malcolm guy,’ mumbled Polly. ‘Anyway, no. Don’t. We’re friends. We’d only fall out. Please.’

‘But I always buy everyone,’ said Reuben, puzzled.

Polly couldn’t explain to him, couldn’t make him see – in fact he would think it utterly ridiculous – how insulting his suggestion was to her. It was partly because she did think working with your friends was a bad idea, even if Reuben completely ignored the bakery after he bought it. But that would be bad too: it just showed how unimportant he thought what she did was. And also, although Reuben would find this concept hilarious, she thought she was like him. She was an entrepreneur, she worked for herself; she hoped one day to work her way up the ladder, to be the owner, not just the manager of her business.

One thing Mrs Manse had been great about was leaving her alone – when she wasn’t complaining – and letting her run things her way, and she had really loved it, really got a taste for it. She enjoyed making decisions and seeing how things turned out. She didn’t want Reuben swanning in with his friends telling her she was doing it wrong. She didn’t want a helping hand she hadn’t earned. She wanted to do it herself.

‘Well not me,’ she said.

‘And not me either,’ said Kerensa, drinking more mead.

‘Apart from that bracelet that was so heavy you strained your wrist,’ pointed out Polly.

‘Oh yes,’ said Kerensa, grinning. ‘I forgot about that.’

Polly smiled at her.

‘How’s being back at work?’

Kerensa scowled. ‘Oh God, it’s rubbish. I wish my staff behaved like flunkies. Everyone Reuben works with behaves like terrified flunkies.’

‘Maybe you should be more frightening.’

‘I’m not sure that’s possible.’

‘Don’t work!’ said Reuben. ‘Anyway, it means I get less sex.’

‘Yes, just twice a day,’ whispered Polly, and Kerensa giggled and blushed. She had insisted on going back to work after months of honeymooning, touring the globe and staying in fancy hotels, eating in the best restaurants and, as she pointed out herself, getting fat.

‘The worst thing is,’ she said, ‘the other women are all SO THIN. There’s every imaginable fabulous thing you could eat in the world, ever, all the time, and it’s all amazing and gorgeous, and they don’t eat ANY OF IT. They just go and have spa treatments!’ She scowled. ‘Before we got married, I thought I was really brilliant at being thin and not eating much. But man, they take it to an entirely new level.’

‘You look fantastic,’ said Polly, loyally but also honestly. Before, when Kerensa had been ferociously slim and fit, she had had a hard look about her. Now she was a little rounder and softer and looked a lot younger in the face, and it suited her.

‘All those jumped-up Barbie dolls talking about suntans,’ shivered Reuben. ‘God. You’re the best of them all, Kay, because I always choose the best kinds of things. Always. Which is why I chose you…’

He was about to start on a long diatribe again. Polly lay back in the sun and smiled to see her friend so happy.

‘I did need to go back to work, though,’ whispered Kerensa. ‘It felt wrong just lying around spending money. I mean, it was fun for about five minutes. But after that it was all a bit WAGtastic.’

‘I agree with you,’ Polly said, mildly. ‘Obviously. Because I’m about to start working for Malcolm the Consultant.’

‘Unless you let me —’ piped up Reuben.

‘No!’

‘Wow, man, your friends are very uncool,’ said Dubose.

‘Well he works for his money,’ pointed out Huckle mildly. ‘He’s allowed to do what he wants with it.’

Dubose scowled. ‘I do too.’

Huckle nodded. ‘When you’re not gallivanting off at spring planting season.’

‘If you wanna go work on a farm, GO WORK ON A FARM,’ said Dubose in exasperation. ‘It’s not like you’re doing anything useful here, hanging round fiddling with honey and eating pie. At least when you were in the city, Mom was proud of you.’

Polly slipped into the bedroom where Huckle was getting ready for bed. He had left Dubose to it.

‘What’s up with you two?’ she said.

‘Oh, just brother stuff. I shouldn’t let him get to me,’ said Huckle, but he looked sad. Polly reached up and cuddled him.

‘If you ask me,’ she said, ‘I think he seems a little lost. Do you think things are okay with Clemmie?’

Huckle sighed. ‘She’s VERY long-suffering. It’s not a bad farm they work, you know? But every time they make a bit of money, he hotfoots it away to find himself and leaves her there alone. I love him, but he’s always had a problem with the really hard work.’

‘But he works on a farm!’ said Polly. ‘That’s about as hard as work gets, that and fishing.’

‘I know,’ said Huckle. ‘That’s why he has to let off steam every now and again.’

‘Shouting about grain subsidies.’

He always kind of wears this big bravado thing on him.’

‘Classic little brother,’ said Polly. ‘He probably worships you.’

Huckle frowned. ‘Funny way of showing it.’

‘Maybe he says the same about you.’

Huckle put his faded blue chambray shirt in the laundry basket and changed the subject.

‘What do you think about Reuben’s offer?’

Polly made a face.

‘I know how you feel,’ said Huckle.

‘You do?’

‘Oh, totally. He tried to set me up in the honey business. Can you imagine? “This honey isn’t right, Huckle! I’d do it much better! I have six international honey trophies.”’

‘He probably does.’

‘But I’m still worried, you know. Worried about this new guy. And worried about money.’

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