Read From Notting Hill to New York . . . Actually Online
Authors: Ali McNamara
Tags: #Fiction, #General
Ali McNamara attributes her over-active imagination to one thing – being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head constantly bursting with stories waiting to be told. When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating’s website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that writing was not only something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too.
Ali lives in Cambridgeshire with her family and two labradors, and when she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching too much reality TV, eating too much chocolate, and counter acting the results of the previous activities with plenty of exercise!
Keep in touch with Ali via her website at
or on Twitter: @AliMcNamara
From Notting Hill With Love … Actually
Breakfast at Darcy’s
Published by Hachette Digital
All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © Ali McNamara 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
Little, Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London, EC4Y 0DY
For Oscar, who always makes me smile.
And Jake, who simply keeps me sane.
I’ve loved writing all about Scarlett and Sean again. It was like coming back to a lovely set of old friends and discovering what might happen to them if I set them off on a new adventure in a brand new city.
However, this book could not have been written without the help and support of a number of people, who I would like to thank now.
My editor, Rebecca, and everyone at my publishers Little, Brown. There are so many of you involved in putting my books together that listing everyone would take up the whole page! But please know how much I appreciate all your hard work and effort.
Hannah, my wonderful agent. Slowly the dream is coming true, Hannah! And it’s all thanks to your original faith in me. Thank you for everything. You always know just the right words to say.
Dan Martland and Nick Dixon. I know you guys still don’t know what you did to inspire me to write two characters based on you when I came to New York last summer, but inspire me you did, and also very kindly allowed me to admit to it in public! Thank you for that, and for all the help and support you’ve both given me during the writing of this book. Scarlett says in the story she only expected to come back from her first trip to New York with a few souvenirs. Well, so did I – I certainly didn’t expect to return with the added bonus of two lovely new friends.
My wonderful family; especially my children Rosie and Tom. I can never thank you enough for all your love and support. But I also can’t thank you enough for allowing me to jet off on my own and discover what New York was really like for the first time last year. Because if I hadn’t, I definitely wouldn’t be writing this now! I love you more than you know.
And finally, to all you lovely readers; firstly for buying my books, but especially for every email, Facebook message or tweet that you’ve sent me telling me how much you enjoy them. It really means the world to me.
‘Scarlett, can you get me
another glass of juice, please?’
I close the lid of my laptop and sigh, getting up from the chair in the study to go across the hall and through to the living room where a sorrowful pair of blue eyes looks up at me from the sofa.
‘Sure, what do you want this time, orange or apple?’
‘Apple, please.’ Sean holds out his empty glass. He manages a weak smile.
‘All right, you don’t have to lay it on so thick,’ I admonish. ‘I thought you were feeling better this morning.’
‘I am, but I still feel a bit wobbly when I try to get up.’
‘OK, I’ll get your juice. You just stay right where you are watching …’ I glance at the TV screen, and it doesn’t surprise
me in the slightest to see cars racing around a track, as per usual. ‘Let me guess – it wouldn’t happen to be
, would it?’
Sean nods absent-mindedly, his attention already lost to the petrol-head world of Clarkson, The Stig and their ridiculously priced cars.
I wander through to the kitchen and fill Sean’s glass with juice. He’d been off sick for a few days now, and I’d been doing my best nursing act, when I’d been at home, looking after him. I didn’t mind, even though I was just beginning to think he was pushing his luck a bit with the ‘I’m so ill’ looks when he wanted something. But when I’d had an extremely nasty dose of the flu last December and could barely get out of bed, let alone walk to our kitchen, for over a week, Sean had taken time off work – unheard of for him – and had waited on me hand and foot. He’d even carried me to the bathroom on one occasion when I was too weak to get there myself. So I really couldn’t complain about a few glasses of juice and a sandwich here and there.
I stand for a moment, admiring our new kitchen. I’d spent many a happy hour poring over designer-kitchen catalogues with my friend, Oscar, choosing just the right oven and fridge to go with the newly installed granite-covered worktops and pale wood units. Sean couldn’t understand why, when I first moved in here with him, I’d wanted
to refit what he considered to be a perfectly adequate kitchen. But I told him that if I was going to move into his house in Notting Hill, I would at least want to put my own stamp on the place, and as always Sean had just let me get on with it. He was very easy-going like that.
Smiling to myself, I stare out of the kitchen window into our small, recently renovated back garden. Neither Sean nor I were really into gardening, so we’d gone for the minimal amount of planting and maximum amount of ‘garden architecture’ as our landscaper, Murray, had called it when we’d hired him to help us out last autumn when deciding what to do with the patch of land at the back of the house. Now we have the perfect area to sit outside in on a summer’s evening, with a glass of chilled wine, chatting over the day’s events with each other. Except, I realise as I stand here now, we’ve only ever done that once, and the person I sit out there with most often is Oscar, when we’re discussing the lives of the contestants in the newest reality TV show, or the latest salacious plot twist in our favourite soap opera.
I lift the glass from the counter and head back to Sean. ‘Here you go,’ I say, handing him the glass. ‘One juice.’
‘Thanks, Scarlett. You’ve been great at looking after me while it’s been my turn for the flu.’
I look sceptically at him. I hardly think this is anything like what I had
in December: his is more of a bad cold. What I’m seeing in front of me, I think, is the common phenomenon known as ‘man flu’.
‘So when do you think you’ll be well enough to go back to work?’ I ask, slipping onto the sofa next to him. I lift up yet more car and sport magazines and drop them on the ever-growing pile on the floor.
‘Maybe tomorrow,’ Sean says, turning his attention from the TV for a moment. ‘But definitely by Thursday. I have to fly to Brussels for a meeting.’
‘Again?’ I ask in astonishment. Sean takes so many business trips abroad he might as well be a bird. His ratio of air-to-ground time is certainly enough to qualify him as one of our feathered friends.
‘Yes. Come on, not
again, Red?’ he raises a sandy-coloured eyebrow at me. ‘I thought we’d been over all that. You knew when you met me that my business means I have to be away a lot.’
I shrug and stare at the TV screen. Sean’s right; I did know he had to travel for meetings and stay away often – that was one of the drawbacks of running your own very successful company. But it didn’t mean I had to like it. It wasn’t fair.
ran my own company. Well, I did, with my father, but I never got to travel away from home. There weren’t many opportunities to go to popcorn-machine conferences, and the only people I ever seemed to meet with were the managers of
cinemas. It was always me here, waiting for Sean to come back from his trips.
My thoughts are distracted by the TV for a moment.
What are they doing this time, are they actually trying to sail those cars across water? Makes a change from blowing up caravans, I suppose.
‘Don’t you ever get fed up watching this?’ I ask, hoping to change the subject. I really didn’t want an argument today. We’d had quite a few of those lately, petty things such as Sean leaving towels on the bathroom floor, clothes on the bedroom floor. In fact, floors were quite a sticky point with us right now.
? No, it’s hilarious.’
! The other day I watched an episode where they were actually playing a game of darts with real cars and a huge gas-powered cannon!’
I look at him doubtfully. Is this the same man I met a year ago, who had swept me off my feet on the top of the London Eye by silently declaring his love for me in movie quotes with flash cards,
‘And,’ Sean continues, ‘I seem to remember you being very interested in the episode when Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were driving around the race track.’
‘Yes, well, that was different. They don’t usually have movie stars on there, do they?’ I hadn’t lost my love of movies
altogether since moving in with Sean. It had just been diluted to a more ‘manageable’ level. I gesture at the TV screen. ‘A programme where three middle-aged men drone on about cars for half an hour just isn’t my idea of fun. It’s like
Last of the Summer Wine
, but with engines and a bit more hair.’
Sean’s lips twitch in amusement as he tries to remain serious. ‘What
your idea of a good programme, then? Hmm … let me think. I know, there needs to be the minimum of at least one crime, preferably a murder to be solved by a dour yet lovable detective. Or the actors need to be trussed up in a corset, a pair of tight breeches and live in a big mansion in the country somewhere.’
‘I do watch more than police shows and costume dramas,’ I reply haughtily. ‘I have quite a varied taste in televisual viewing.’
Sean grins now. ‘That’s right, I almost forgot – we need to make sure the leading man is a bit of a handsome fella too, and then it’s your perfect programme! I should call the BBC and suggest it to them: remake
Pride and Prejudice
with Colin Firth, except this time call it
Mr Darcy Investigates
. He could ride around on his horse, unravelling local mysteries. There must have been loads of unsolved murders in Jane Austen’s time.’
I fold my arms and survey him disapprovingly across the sofa. Although the idea of Colin Firth striding around Pemberley as
an eighteenth-century detective is not altogether a bad idea …
‘Well, tell me I’m wrong,’ Sean challenges, still grinning.
‘Why would I need to lust after TV stars when I’ve got my own handsome hunk sitting right here on my sofa?’ I answer, my frown beginning to soften into a smile. ‘When you’re actually
home, of course,’ I add.
‘Hmm … I might just let you get away with that,’ Sean says, reaching across the settee and pulling me towards him.