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‘I know, right? I guess they wanted peace and quiet and they’ve certainly got it.’

‘How’re you, anyway?’ Erin asked her sister as she turned back to the room.

Zara flopped into the bed and stretched out her arms. ‘I’m OK.’

‘How’s the course?’

‘Amazing. I’m loving it!’

‘I had a feeling you’d go into fashion design because of the way you used to cut up your dolls’ clothes and redesign them.’

Zara had always been interested in designing and it had showed in her dolls’ clothes as well as in her colouring books and how she dressed as she got older. While her friends were following trends, Zara liked to create her own outfits by combining items she found in charity shops or ones she made herself with the sewing machine she’d requested for her fourteenth birthday. She was very different to Erin, who’d always been an avid reader and had studied English Literature at university then gone on to do her teacher training before qualifying as an English teacher. That had been followed by four years teaching English in Dubai, a time that she’d enjoyed in some ways but that had also led to heartbreak.

‘I’d love to set up my own online shop on Etsy or to open a boutique calledDesigned by Zara.’

‘On the way here I saw that there’s a small boutique in the village.’

‘Dragonfly Dreams?’

‘That’s the one. I bet they’ve got some lovely items in there.’

‘Fancy going to have a look one day while we’re here?’ Zara asked.

‘Love to!’ Erin tilted her head. ‘It’s very quiet. Where are Mum and Dad?’

‘At the supermarket. They didn’t have enough wine, apparently.’

‘Dad’s not even supposed to be drinking much.’

‘I know but it’s because we’re expecting company.’

‘Are we now? And who’s that?’

‘Just Paul and someone he’s bringing.’

‘What? A lady friend?’ Erin sat on the bed next to Zara.

‘I think so. And one of his colleagues.’

‘For Christmas?’ Paul had brought his friends home over the years but not for Christmas.

‘That’s what Mum said.’ Zara yawned. ‘You hungry?’

‘Always!’ Erin laughed.

‘Come on then there’s mince pies in the kitchen. Dad made them earlier.’


Erin got up and held out a hand and pulled Zara up and they went downstairs together. Zara might be eight years younger than Erin but they’d always got on well and Erin was looking forward to having some time with her sister over the holidays. As for Paul, she hoped his guests would be all right because she didn’t fancy having to make small talk with anyone stuffy over breakfast.



Leo Steele stifled a yawn as he looked around the club. Another evening surrounded by drunk people in a swanky London club was not how he wanted to spend the start of the weekend but what else could he do when his oldest friend asked him to go out?

Paul was meeting his latest girlfriend at the club and apparently, she was bringing her friend to meet Leo. Not that he was interested, not at all, but he didn’t want to be rude and he knew Paul was just looking out for him. Leo wished he could be more like Paul, he really did. Paul moved from woman to woman, treating each one like she was the centre of his world and then moving on again when he grew tired. Leo didn’t want to be like him in that respect, but he did wish he could wrap his head around dating again. It was just so difficult after what he’d been through. His life had seemed to be on course up until two years ago and then it had exploded, and he’d been left with the fragments of what he’d thought he’d have. After going through so much pain and anguish, he couldn’t imagine ever wanting to go through it again. To love and lose was the absolute worst and he didn’t know if he’d have the strength to keep going if he had to go through anything similar.

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