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‘No. Maybe, but that’s not the point. You’ve been promising one for ages and poor Jessie has never eventriedyour macaroni cheese.’ Diane turned around, indicating Jessie.

Looking up from the dishwasher, Jessie laughed. ‘You keep me out of this.’

Turning back to Elsie, Diane tapped the steel table between them. ‘Okay. The truth is, I’m craving your macaroni cheese. It’s the best macaroni cheese in the whole entire world, and I love our macaroni cheese and film nights.’ Diane smiled at Elsie.

‘Oh, go on then.’ Laughing, Elsie shook her head.

‘Yes! Have I told you that you’re the best?’ Jumping around the table, Diane threw her arms around Elsie.

‘Just so you know, I was going to say yes the first time you asked, but it was nice to hear that.’ Elsie chuckled. ‘I’ll leave it to you to invite everyone, though.’

‘Yep. That’s absolutely fine. I’ll get on my phone.’ Grinning, Diane left the kitchen.

‘You’re welcome to ask Simon along if you want to. The more the merrier and all that.’ Elsie glanced across at Jessie before turning the cake around and checking it.

‘Okay, thank you.’


‘HOLD ON, I JUST WANTto double-check something. I picked up six reels of that wide purple ribbon, didn’t I?’ Wendy paused in the middle of the street and began rummaging through the numerous reels of ribbon in the box Jessie was carrying.

‘I’m pretty sure you did. Yes, look, there’s one hiding under the white tulle in the corner.’ Jessie nodded towards a reel of purple ribbon poking out from beneath a pillow of tulle.

‘Oh, yes. Thanks. I’m so worried we’re going to forget something. We usually have people come in to decorate the venue with flowers or balloons or whatever, but because we’ve got to transform Claire and Callum’s venue from a derelict barn to a romantic haven, there’s a lot more involved.’

‘Try not to worry. We can double-check everything as we go along.’

‘You’re right. It will all be fine.’ Straightening her back, Wendy threw her long plait over her shoulder and grinned. ‘We have this under control.’

‘We do.’ Smiling, Jessie hefted the box higher in her arms. ‘And the barn will look amazing.’

‘It will. It definitely will. Do you want me to take that for a bit?’

‘I’m okay, thanks. It’s not heavy, just cumbersome.’

‘Right, well, let me know if you want me to take a turn. The car’s a fair few streets away yet.’ Wendy pulled a small notebook from her bag and began ticking items off the list. ‘We can put that in the car and then pop back and check in at the florists. Make sure everything’s still in place.’

‘Okay.’ Jessie frowned as a loud siren suddenly filled the quiet Trestow street. Looking behind her, she watched as a patrol car sped along the empty road, the blue lights flashing and reflecting off the shop windows around them. Swallowing, she watched as it disappeared around the corner.

‘Are you okay?’

‘What?’ Jessie shook her head. ‘Yes.’

‘Are you worried about Simon?’ Wendy frowned.

‘Yes. It looked like him driving. I’m not sure though. The car was going that fast.’ She forced herself to look away from the corner and focus on Wendy. ‘It probably wasn’t even him. I’m being daft. Even if it was him, it’s his job. He knows what he’s doing. He can look after himself.’

‘Why don’t you have a word with Paige? I think she’s coming for macaroni cheese tonight. It took her a while to wrap her head around Owen being a firefighter. She used to worry to the point it was crippling her when he was out on a shift.’ Wendy shrugged. ‘I’m not saying she doesn’t worry now. I’m sure she does, but I think she’s found a way to cope now.’

Jessie nodded. She couldn’t do that. She hadn’t even met Paige. Or Owen, for that matter.

‘Or Lauren. I’m sure she’ll tell you how she copes thinking about Charlie being a firefighter.’

‘Maybe.’ Could she? Lauren and Charlie had been together for months, she and Simon a week. It wasn’t the same. Did she even have a right to feel this petrified that something might happen to him?

‘Come on, let’s get rid of that box. After the florists, we can pop into a little coffee shop I know, if you like?’

‘Okay. That sounds nice.’ She shook her head. Simon would be fine. It would probably be a false alarm or something and nothing.

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