Home > Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #2)(7)

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #2)(7)
Jenny Colgan

She was slightly cheered by her friend and colleague Tina arriving with six boxes of candy canes.

‘I thought we could hang them all round the door frame,’ said Tina. ‘Start to make the place look Christmassy.’

‘Yes,’ said Rosie. Then she frowned. ‘Wouldn’t that be basically inciting children to nick ’em?’

‘It’s Christmas,’ said Tina. ‘I think we can probably lose a few to sticky fingers. Oh, and let’s get the super-duper expensive chocs, the really crazy Belgian ones. In boxes.’

‘Why? Do people like those in for Christmas?’

‘It’s not a question of like,’ said Tina. ‘The nearest supermarket is an hour away and shuts early on Christmas Eve. If we stay open right up to the very last minute, we’ll be able to sell every single piece of stock in the shop, no matter what we charge, to lazy people, or farmers who don’t get the chance to leave their farms before then. You see it every year. It’s what keeps the boutique afloat too.’

‘You’re an evil business genius,’ said Rosie, leafing through the catalogue. ‘I don’t know why you stay with me instead of going on The Apprentice.’

Tina smiled shyly and blushed a little bit.

‘Are you staying here for Christmas?’ asked Rosie. Actually, it was a bit of a daft question round here; of course they were. It was different in London, everyone from their own places, going home to their extended families. London emptied out at Christmas time, leaving the few stray locals born and bred, plus lots of people who didn’t celebrate it anyway. When Rosie told people here that shops and cafés in London were open on Christmas Day, they looked at her like she was a heathen Martian.

‘Yes,’ said Tina. ‘Jake’s coming over.’

Jake was the handsome local farmhand Tina had fallen for last year. He was something of a well-known rake about town, who’d always liked the girls – and they’d liked him back – and no one was more surprised than Jake himself how hard he’d fallen for her, a single mother of twins, in return.

‘So it’ll be us and my mum, you know, and Kent and Emily, and Jake’s mum and dad. It’ll be lovely and we’ll have a big lunch down at my mum and dad’s – my mum does everything, she loves cooking for Christmas. All I have to do is watch the kids open their presents, get drunk and watch telly.’

‘That sounds BRILLIANT,’ said Rosie enviously. Then she explained her own plans. ‘It is wonderful they’re coming,’ she said. ‘I’m just a bit worried about what we’ll all do, where we’ll fit…’

‘No, it’ll be great!’ said Tina, who lived two streets away from her mother and wished they were closer.

‘I don’t know what Stephen will think, though,’ added Rosie. ‘Plus, we’ll have to see his mother, and —’

‘It’ll be fantastic!’ said Tina. ‘It’s nice to have children at Christmas. Can’t you have it up at the big house?’

‘Hmm,’ said Rosie. ‘I don’t think so. Shane and Meridian will have broken the lot by first kick.’

‘Don’t worry so much,’ said Tina. ‘It’ll be fine.’

‘You think?’

Rosie meant to tell Stephen straight away that night, but he looked so happy and full of his own news that she made him tea in front of the fire instead.

‘How was it?’

‘Amazing!’ he said. ‘They were great. So keen and nice and of course I know half of them. They all wanted to know what happened to my leg.’

‘Did you tell them?’

‘Of course I told them, what did you think?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Rosie. ‘I might have been tempted to tell them I hurt it in an intergalactic space raid to impress them.’

Stephen lifted his cup of tea.

‘That didn’t occur to me. Anyway, I told them, so they won’t worry about it. And also, I wanted them to see the lengths some kids in this world have to go to to get an education. How lucky they are.’

‘No kid ever thinks they’re lucky,’ mused Rosie.

‘Some adults do,’ said Stephen, looking at her for a second, until she smiled, her worries forgotten. She’d tell him later, she thought.

‘Oh, and I almost forgot!’ said Stephen, his face lighting up. ‘Mother says we can have one of Bran’s pups when they come!’

‘I know,’ said Rosie. ‘She told me.’

Stephen looked at her expression.

‘This is amazing!’ he said. ‘They’re worth a fortune, Bran’s pups. He’s a wonderful working dog.’

‘Where are we going to put a gigantic dog?’ said Rosie, glancing round the cosy little room, the logs crackling in the fireplace, the light dancing in the old brasses.

Stephen shrugged. ‘Well, it’ll just go where we go, won’t it. And it’s not like we’ll be here for ever.’

Rosie looked up in surprise.

‘Why, do you have a plan?’

‘No,’ he said. ‘But, you know, it’s not ideal, is it?’

‘It’s lovely, and five seconds from our jobs,’ said Rosie. ‘Seems pretty ideal to me.’

‘Yes, but that’s because you grew up in a box.’

‘You are SUCH a disgusting snob,’ said Rosie.

‘I know,’ said Stephen. ‘That’s why you love me and the dog so much.’

Chapter Three

Rosie was good friends with the village GP, Moray. On Friday she persuaded him to come with her to see Lilian. Stephen was busy planning the school concert.

‘He’s so into it,’ she said in wonder. ‘I’ve never seen him like this.’

‘That’s Stephen,’ said Moray, who’d grown up with him. ‘Intense.’

They both smiled. The snow had stayed on the ground, with more threatened, but for now, Moray’s Land Rover was managing over the undulating single-file hill roads. With the sun sparkling across the top of the mountains, it was like being at the top of the Alps.

‘Well, it’s good,’ said Rosie. ‘I like him happy.’

‘I would hope so,’ said Moray, giving her a sideways look. ‘How are you? Not missing the smoke?’

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