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‘In that case, why don’t I put a pasty on a plate for you to eat now and a cookie in a bag for later?’

Jessie laughed. ‘You’re not supposed to be encouraging me to have both! But, hey, why not? Yes, that’s a good idea, thanks.’

‘Ha-ha, I only encourage something I’d do!’ Brooke placed a pasty on a plate. ‘Is everything okay? You look shattered.’

‘Oh, I am.’ Covering her mouth, she yawned. ‘Sorry, why is it that whenever anyone talks about feeling tired, you automatically yawn?’

‘I don’t know.’ Brooke used her elbow to cover her mouth as she yawned, too. ‘Look, you’ve got me going now.’

Laughing, Jessie rummaged in her pocket for the change. ‘Sorry.’

‘You don’t need to pay. Can you imagine Elsie’s face if she thought we were paying for our own food whilst working?’ Brooke grinned.

‘Really? That’s not how it’s worked in any of the numerous places I’ve worked at before.’

‘No, me neither, but that’s Elsie for you.’ Brooke glanced towards the kitchen door. ‘She’s the best newly-found grandmother anyone could ask for. Or she will be when she and Ian finally tie the knot.’

‘Oh yes, you didn’t find out too long ago that you’re Ian’s granddaughter, is it? How’s that going?’

‘It’s strange. He’s amazing, and so is Connor, my newfound cousin, but I’m still trying to get my head around it all. My mum didn’t know she was adopted, so it’s all been a huge surprise but, as you’d expect, Ian, Elsie and Connor and, of course, Ollie who is basically a cousin too, have been amazing and know it’ll take a while for me to get my head around.’

‘That’s good then.’

‘Yes, they’ve been so accepting.’ Brooke placed a cookie in a bag. ‘If I had to find out I had all this other family out there, I don’t think I could have chosen better than Ian, Connor, Ollie and Elsie.’

Jessie nodded.

‘Ian’s trying to find my birth grandmother, which is both exciting and scary.’

‘Oh wow. That must be daunting, but I’m sure she’s as nice as Ian or he wouldn’t have been with her.’

‘Umm, I hope so. She didn’t tell Ian about my mum, though. That makes me a tad wary.’

‘She probably had good reason. Maybe they lost touch or something.’

Brooke nodded and smiled. ‘Yes, you’re right. There will be a reason. It would be good to meet her, even if it’s just to see that piece of the puzzle, so to speak.’

‘Yes.’ Jessie touched Brooke’s hand. ‘Look, if you ever need to talk, you know where I am.’

‘Thank you. I might take you up on that offer.’ Brooke grinned.

Jessie nodded and picked up the plate and bag, making her way past the queue of people and out of the bakery door. She needed a bit of quiet and space for what she was about to do. With the paper bag balancing on top of the pasty and plate, she weaved her way through the local residents and tourists milling around on the promenade and skipped down the steps to the sand below.

Making her way further up the beach until she could hear the waves of the ocean above the background chatter of people, she sank to the sand and crossed her legs. Placing the plate on the sand in front of her, she watched as the waves splashed against a small group of rocks poking up from the seabed, their seaweed-covered tops looking proudly up to the shining sun.

She pulled her mobile from her pocket and placed it on the sand next to their plate before turning her attention to the pasty. As she sunk her teeth into the warmth of the pastry, a hot dribble of cheese ran down her chin. Yes, this was what she’d needed, a bit of sustenance before she made the call.

A lone seagull hopped along the sand towards her, its head bobbing up and down as it made its way closer.

‘Are you hungry too?’ Wiping her mouth, she pulled a chunk of pastry from the bottom and threw it at the bird. After swallowing the last bit, she put the bag with the cookie back on the plate and pushed it aside. The time had come. There was no more delaying. She had fifteen minutes until she needed to be back in the bakery. She and Wendy had to leave to drive to Trestow to collect some ribbon for Claire and Callum’s wedding.

Pressing theCallbutton, Jessie closed her eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun on the skin on the back of her neck.



‘Jessie! It’s you! You rang back! Sis, I know a lot has gone on between us and I totally get why you don’t want to speak to me. I know I’m probably the last person on this planet that you want to talk to. I wouldn’t want to speak to me if I were you. Not even if I was the last person on earth, but, please, hear me out.’

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