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Jessie’s shoulders slumped, and she shook her head. It all made sense; her mum hadn’t driven down here. Kelly had. And Kelly was waiting outside which was why her mum had glanced towards the door and why she was now so desperate to get Jessie to go out onto the promenade. She should have known she wouldn’t have come all this way to just check in on her. This would have been Kelly’s idea.

‘Come on, Jess.’ Taking her arm, Jessie’s mum led her through the throng of customers and outside.

Sure enough, sat there at one of the little bistro tables outside the café next door was Kelly. Pulling her arm from her mum’s grasp, Jessie turned to look at her. ‘I thought you’d come down to see me.’

‘What do you mean, Jess? I have. I’m here.’

‘No, you haven’t. It probably wasn’t even your idea. Kelly put you up to this. I stupidly thought you’d come to check how I was doing.’ She looked away and focused on a line of people waiting to buy ice creams at the end of the small row of shops. Who had she been kidding? Her mum wouldn’t have come all this way under her own steam. Of course, she wouldn’t. Jessie knew she loved her, but it had always been Kelly she’d worried about. She’d always thought Jessie could take care of herself because she was the eldest.

Her mum looked from Kelly to Jessie again. ‘It may have been Kelly’s idea. Initially. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to come and check in with you. I just thought I was doing the right thing by giving you a bit of space.’

‘And now what? You’ve suddenly changed your mind because Kelly says?’ Taking a deep breath, Jessie looked down at the cobbles. She wasn’t being fair to her mum. She’d still come all this way. She’d still made the trip. She’d have had to take time off work too and that was something she had never liked doing. She looked back at her mum. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t mean to upset you. It’s just a surprise, that’s all, you turning up in the bakery. I wasn’t expecting it.’

‘That’s okay, Jess, dear. I understand. And the truth is, yes, it was Kelly’s idea to come down here to talk, but I think it’s a good one. You both need to clear the air before you come home. You’ve got a lot to discuss.’

‘Where are you even staying?’

‘At Uncle Phil’s caravan. Do you remember the one at the caravan park overlooking the sea? The one we used to come down and holiday at when you were both little.’

‘Oh, yes.’ Jessie nodded. She remembered a caravan and that they’d always holidayed in the same caravan, she just hadn’t realised it was Uncle Phil’s. She guessed she’d always just assumed they went to the same place because they all enjoyed it and her parents asked for the same caravan. She hadn’t really given it any thought, not as a young child.

‘Go on then. Sit down and talk to your sister.’ Taking her arm, Jessie’s mum turned her towards the table Kelly was sitting at.

‘I didn’t think I’d ever see the day you put an apron on.’ Laughing, Kelly shook a tiny packet of sugar before tearing the end off and tipping it into her mug.

Sighing, Jessie glanced back towards the bakery. ‘This is a waste of time.’

‘Hey, hey. No, it’s not.’

‘It is.’ Jessie shoved her hands in the pocket of her apron.

‘I told you she’d be like this. You didn’t believe she’d hung up on me, did you?’ Kelly looked across at her mum.

This was ridiculous. She was standing out here, wasting her time while Teresa and Diane were snowed under serving behind the bakery counter. ‘Look, I really haven’t got time for this. I need to get back. Enjoy your holiday.’

‘Oh, Jess. Don’t be like that.’

As she turned, Jessie could hear the disappointment in her mum’s voice. All she wanted to do was to scream and tell her that Kelly had caused this, all of this, not her, but it wasn’t the time or the place. And it wouldn’t be fair on her mum. She wasn’t the one Jessie should be taking all of this out on. It was Kelly.

She weaved back through the customers gathered around the counter and pushed her way through to the kitchen door. She just needed a moment. One minute to herself. All she wanted to do was to tell Kelly how she really felt but she knew that if she did that, Kelly would likely never speak to her again. Her sister had always been the queen of sulking and playing the hard done by one. Even if she’d done something wrong, like now, she’d find a way to make everyone believe she was in the right. She’d make everyone think that Jessie was the one who was overreacting.

Huh, maybe she was. It wasn’t as though she wanted Brad back. She didn’t; he was in her past but that was the problem. Brad was supposed to be part of her history, and now with his baby on the way, he wouldn’t be. He’d be tied to their family forever. Past, present and future. How could that be fair?

As she pushed the kitchen door open, Jessie blinked as it swung closed behind her. Something wasn’t right. There was a funny smell. The ovens! Running around the steel table, Jessie grabbed the oven gloves and opened the oven door, a billow of smoke gasping out. Throwing the scorched cakes on the steel table, she turned off the oven and ran to open the windows and back door, hoping the smoke would disperse before the smoke alarms and sprinkler system sprung into action.

Wafting the smoke out with the oven gloves, Jessie felt the tears begin to fall, running down her cheeks. This was supposed to be her time. She was supposed to have been in control of her life. Just for a few weeks. She’d had every right to put the phone down on Kelly, to end a conversation she wasn’t ready to have. They’d taken that control away from her now. Kelly and her mum. They’d travelled down here, invaded her safe space and now she was the one left feeling guilty. Again.

‘Jessie, love. Are you okay?’ The kitchen door opened and shut, as Elsie rushed across the room. ‘You’re not hurt, are you?’

‘No, I’m fine.’

‘Good, good. I should never have left those cakes baking. It took longer than I thought. Thank you. Without your quick thinking, things could have been a lot worse than two burnt-to-a-crisp cakes.’ Holding Jessie’s hands, she turned them over, checking them.

‘I’m really not hurt. I just came in and saw smoke coming from the oven and took them out.’

‘Thank goodness for that. Oh, love. I’d never have forgiven myself if something had happened.’ Hugging her quickly, Elsie held her at arm’s length. ‘You’ve been crying.’

‘Oh, it’s just the smoke. It got into my eyes.’ Jessie waved off Elsie’s concerns.

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