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‘Hi, I’m a week early. I only realised on my way down here, so I’ll get a Bed and Breakfast for the week.’ Jessie shifted, the rocks cool beneath her bare feet.

‘Lovely to meet you, Jessie.’ Elsie pulled her in for a hug, seemingly not worried about getting wet. ‘Look at you. Let’s get you dried up, love. And don’t worry about being early. I’m sure we’ll be able to sort something out.’ Standing aside, she ushered them in.’Come on inside.’

Stepping inside, Jessie looked around the circular living room.

‘Everyone’s in the kitchen.’ Elsie turned and called over her shoulder. ‘Daisy, love, bring a towel out here, would you please?’

Jessie watched as the kitchen door opened and a small boy ran towards them, followed by a woman carrying a towel who she assumed was Daisy.


‘This is Jessie. Jessie, Daisy. Can you show her the bathroom please, love and see if there are any clothes Helen left here, she could borrow please?’

‘My suitcase should be waterproof.’ Taking the case from Max, she grimaced. At least she hoped it was waterproof.

‘T-Rex!’ The small boy bounded up to Max, who passed him the plastic dinosaur he’d been carrying.

‘Yep. We got your T-Rex.’

‘What do you say, Huddy?’ Elsie ruffled the boy’s hair.

‘Tank you.’

‘No problem.’ Max laughed.

‘Thank goodness you found it. Thanks, love.’ Elsie grinned at Brooke and Max before turning back to Jessie. ‘Right, off you go and follow Daisy. Dinner will be in about fifteen minutes, I think.’

‘Thank you.’ Doing as she was instructed, she began climbing a spiral staircase, following Daisy. ‘Thank you for this. Do you live here too? I’m afraid my clothes are dripping everywhere.’

‘Don’t worry. No, just Ian and Connor live here now. And don’t worry about the water. They won’t.’ Glancing behind her, Daisy smiled at Jessie. ‘Ollie, my husband,’ Daisy laughed and shook her head. ‘We only got married a couple of months ago, so it still sounds odd calling him that. Anyway, he and his sister, Helen, lived with Ian for most of their childhood. Helen’s moved abroad now but, as Elsie said, she’s probably left some bits here if you do find your clothes in your case aren’t dry.’

‘Thank you. I feel awful getting here early. I was meant to come next week.’

‘Oh, don’t worry about that. Elsie’s very flexible and the kindest person I think I’ve ever met. We’ll find you somewhere to stay. There are enough of us, Elsie’s previous volunteers, someone will be able to put you up.’

‘Oh, I couldn’t.’ She’d only just met these people, she couldn’t, and wouldn’t expect them to let her, a complete stranger, stay with them.

‘Anyway, what I mean is don’t worry about being early. Elsie will sort something out. She always does. Here’s the bathroom. There’re towels in the cupboard. Just be careful with the shower if you have one. It can be a bit temperamental and get quite hot at first.’

‘Thank you.’

‘No worries. Give me a shout if you need anything.’

Nodding, Jessie waited until Daisy had closed the bathroom door before laying her suitcase down and opening it. Phew. Itwaswaterproof then. Rummaging through her clothes, she pulled out another long skirt and a t-shirt. They’d do.


JESSIE LOOKED IN THEmirror as she forced the hairbrush through her hair. What had she been thinking? Diving in after her suitcase? Now she wasn’t just a week early for her volunteering stint at The Cornish Bay Bakery, a random stranger, Brooke, had risked falling in the sea to rescue her suitcase, she’d interrupted a meal Elsie and her family were having, dripped water everywhere in the lighthouse and had trashed the bathroom.

Bundling her wet clothes into a carrier bag, she began drying the floor tiles.

‘Hey, Jessie. How’s it going?’

Jessie glanced towards the bathroom door. She was pretty sure that was Daisy. ‘Okay. Thanks. I won’t be much longer.’

‘Okay. No rush. Just wanted to make sure everything was okay.’

‘Thanks.’ Leaning back on her haunches, she listened to Daisy’s footsteps as she retreated down the spiral staircase. Everyone she’d met so far had been really lovely and welcoming, but that didn’t make it right. If anything, it only pointed to the fact that Jessie had messed up. She’d tell them she’d find somewhere to stay herself. The last thing she wanted to do was to impose. She’d leave now.

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